Sustainable Innovation

Best Practices at Total
October 18, 2009, 10:45 pm
Filed under: Best Practices in France | Tags: , ,

total logo AlainCastinel2006

Alain Castinel, Sustainable Development Coordinator at Total Holding.

Total is France’s first and world’s 5th ranked oil and gas company as well as chemical producer. The company employs 97.000 people in 130 countries worldwide. It generates an annual turnover of 14 billion euros with 3 Business Units : Upstream (Exploration & Production, Gas & Power), Downstream (Refining & Marketing, Trading & Shipping) and Chemicals (1)

Alain Castinel is Sustainable Development Coordinator at Total Corporate Affairs since 2004. Engineer by education, Castinel has covered various positions within Total, from general management to communication director. In his current role he profits from its wide personal network and knowledge about the business. He works in close cooperation with the Sustainable Development representatives in the different Business Units.

1. What are the CR objectives ?

Total has started to formalise its policies on sustainable conditions by the establishment of a Sustainable Development Direction in 2002. It also implemented a new Code of Conduct. This Code commits to policies of transparency and anti-corruption. As well, Total is supporting the Global Compact Principles. In March 2009 Total was included in the Sustainable Companies FTS4Good list.

The core business of the company is extraction and refining of oil and gas. Therefore, reinforcing security and managing environmental impact have been always key driving principles.

plant total

Total Plant (2)

Among the main axes of attention are :

Minimise emissions. It remains a challenge to extract the most fossil fuels wasting the less possible water and gas. Total applies various technologies to manage this. Oil recovery and electrical submersible pumps are applied in mature oil fields. Cultivation practices are implemented to reduce waste water and waste gas. Gas burning during production has stopped as of 2000. Gas is now re-injected into the reservoir – as practiced in the Angola and Libya plants. The gas can also be resold as raw materials for liquefaction plants or as fuel.

Help customers to reduce their environmental footprint : The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has estimated that 28% of the worlds greenhouse emissions (in total 49 billion metric tons carbon equivalents in 2004) is generated in the utilisation phase of oil and gas fuel. Transport, building heating and industry sectors are responsable for most emissions. Total offers customers services and products that help to manage green house gas emissions.

green house gas effects

Attribution of green house gases (GHG) to application sectors (% age of created GHG) (2)

Create a diversified product portfolio. Total invests in alternative energies in response to a growing customer demand. Four alternative energy sources have been chosen : solar energy, nuclear, biomass and coal conversion technologies. Solar energy is already operational and commercially feasible. Tenesol, the operational Total-EDF solar plant near Toulouse is extendings its site to meet demands. Techological developments on thinner and stronger silicon cells films continue. All in all, Total is preparing itself to become a full provider of solar energy as an alternative to its existing fossil fuel supply chain.

solar panels tenesol

Photovoltaic system of Tenesol (EDF/Total)(2)

2. Is Sustainable Development a motor for Innovation ?

Sustainable drivers are indeed a motor of innovation for Total. Castinel notes that most of them are not disruptive technological innovation but incremental innovation : Total is as constantly trying to increase the effectiveness of its products and decreasing environmental impact. And in many cases this is done with partners. Motor and fuel performance optimisation is being studied together with automotive suppliers.

Innovations tend to come as solutions. Total is offering and developing ‘EcoSolutions’. The Solutions help customers to manage and reduce their environmental footprint. The offer can consist of products, services or a combination of both. Examples of B2B solutions are the eco-fuel ‘Total Excellium’, eco-friendly driving workshops for employees, a fleet managers dashboard to monitor fuel use and carbon emission and company communication sensibility kits. For the B2C market, Total Gaz offers Eco Déclic solutions. One of them is Eco Declic Solaire+ : Whilst signing up as customer of Total Gaz, you can profit from a 1000 € refund for solar panel investments on your roof. Similar stimulants are introduced for other alternative electricity generators, such as condensers or house isolation. Customers will both save money and contribute to a better environment.


Eco-Déclic : Total Gaz customers profit of a 1000 euro repayment for solar panels

3. How does the Crisis impact Sustainable Development ?

For Total, economic growth and the oil price per barrel are most important economic indicators. The budget of Total Foundation, who donates to projects in solidarity, biodiversity and culture is somehow effected by economic change at it is directly linked to companies revenues. However, strategic sustainable choices such as the development of alternative energies and EcoSolutions are continued to be developed as planned. They are made as strategic business decisions to ensure maintenance and progress of the company.

Customers will welcome sustainable solutions that simplify life’ – Alain Castinel, Total.

4. What is your outlook for Sustainable Development  ?

Castinel expects customers to continue to demand a cocktail of energy sources. Total will continue to produce its current fossil fuels. And develop alternative and renewable energies in parallel.

A new paradigm will appear : Customers want to heat their house and use their car, but are more conscious about their energy consumption. They want to use energy as well as reduce energy consumption to protect the environment at the same time.  Energy providers will need to respond to this paradigm. They are expected to continue offering energy services, but as well extend their services with options to monitor, manage and possibly reduce energy consumption.

Customers will welcome solutions that simplify life. Think about a service that guarantees a house temperature of 19 degrees. It switches to the most environmental and effective heating or cooling system at any time of the day.


The author thanks Alain Castinel for his openness and time.

Sources : 1., 2. Report ‘Environment and Society 2008’, our corporate social responsibilities’


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